JAKARTA, Indonesia -- As a country often referred to as an example of a moderate Muslim-majority state in the region, Malaysia has been raising eyebrows worldwide lately.
A string of incidents has recently underlined tensions between the Muslim majority and the Christian and Hindu minorities, and otherwise painted the country with more Islamic colors. These have included Muslims protesting against Hindu temples by parading in front of one carrying a cow's head; fathers converting their children to Islam without informing the mother; housewives sentenced to whippings for daring to drink a beer; and pop concerts being banned.
But more worrisome is the level of Islamization in the nation's bureaucracy, which has taken on a life of its own and seems accountable to no one. Each of the 13 states in Malaysia now has its own Islamic administration and jurisdiction.